Business Irish

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Bank whistle-blowing calls surge

Central Bank Deputy Governor Sharon Donnery Photo: Jason Clarke Photography
Central Bank Deputy Governor Sharon Donnery Photo: Jason Clarke Photography
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The Central Bank has reported a more than 300pc surge in whistle-blower calls in the first three months of this year, after the Irish Independent revealed that a dedicated hotline set up after the crash was not manned.

In the first quarter of 2017, the Central Bank received 30 reports through its Whistleblower Desk - compared with nine in the same period in 2016, Deputy Governor Sharon Donnery told the Commission, or board, that oversees the regulator. That's according to minutes of a monthly meeting of the Commission held on April 28.

In January, the Irish Independent reported the Central Bank's whistle-blower phone hotline was unmanned and voicemail was not activated.

There were also issues with emails sent to the dedicated whistle-blower address not being answered. The helpline was originally set up and launched in the wake of the financial crisis as part of a so-called protected disclosure facility allowing staff in financial services companies to report questionable and illegal activity, particularly in banks.

Minutes from January meeting of the Central Bank Commission showed members of the board expressed concern about the whistle-blower line being left unmanned. At the April board meeting the members were told that the spike in contact by whistle-blowers occurred around the time of media coverage of what was described as "the technical issues regarding the line".

Responsibility for managing whistle-blower complaints was shifted from the Organisational Risk Division of the Central Bank to the Enforcement arm this year, which the Bank said was previously planned.

The same minutes show that staffing issues remain a problem.

There had been a 64pc increase in the number of staff in the last 10 years, with 200 more roles to be filled this year. With more than half of all vacancies being filled internally, and 70 staff at any time absent on secondment, the Central Bank said it does not believe that it will be feasible to expect all vacancies to be filled this year.

Irish Independent

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